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Adding disks to a Dell PE 1600 SC

Posted on 2014-10-07
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Hello,

I need to add disk space to a Dell PowerEdge 1600SC.  The RAID controller is an LSI Logic 1030 Ultra 320 (SCSI).  Currently there are two disks in a RAID 1 (mirror) configuration.  I would like to keep the current data and expand the volume with more disks.  Seems pretty straight forward, but after browsing the user manual, I am hesitant about this as it says to erase the data on the primary disk when configuring a disk array of more than two disks?  Has anyone performed this operation on this piece of hardware or something similar successfully?

Thanks,
Mike
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Question by:cheesebugah
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by:PowerEdgeTech
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I don't think this controller is capable of Online Capacity Expansion.  IF it is, it is only available through the OS, using OpenManage Server Administrator to Reconfigure the Virtual Disk.  I see NO indication that that controller is supported in OMSA.  Best to backup/restore to a larger array.
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You cannot add another disk to a RAID 1 (mirrored) array to increase capacity.  You could potentially add 2 disks in another RAID 1 array to add additional space as a new volume under windows, but you can't just add a 1 TB disk to a 500 GB mirrored array.

What you need to do is backup the system using some sort of disk Image software and then install the 2 new disks with the higher capacity and restore the image.  I have also had some limited success adding 2 new disks, creating the larger array and imaging from the smaller array to the larger array.  

Either way, it is not as easy as simply adding a disk.  In some Raid 0, 5, and other RAID configurations this may be possible, however I have not seen it done or found it possible using RAID 1.
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You cannot add another disk to a RAID 1 (mirrored) array to increase capacity.  You could potentially add 2 disks in another RAID 1 array to add additional space as a new volume under windows, but you can't just add a 1 TB disk to a 500 GB mirrored array.
I believe he is referring to the Online Capacity Expansion feature available on most of Dell's hardware RAID controllers.  A RAID 1 could be converted to a 3 (or more)-disk RAID 5 from a RAID 1.
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I stand corrected.  Yes I that is possible, I was just presuming the increase of the a RAID 1 array with preserving the RAID 1 configuration.  I had not considered moving from RAID 1 to RAID 5.  That being said if I remember correctly the controller on that system is a bit limited in functionality and may not offer this.  I do not have one to test or I would gladly do so.
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If he is talking about moving to a larger RAID 1, I can tell him definitively that it can only be done with a backup/restore, and the complete lack of mention of that controller in any version of OpenManage documentation (since OMSA is the only way to initiate such a change on most controllers) leads me to conclude that it the hardware is not capable of that type of operation at all.
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by:cheesebugah
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There is really nothing in OMSA that affords me the ability to do anything with this current RAID 1.  I would be willing to move to a RAID 5 if that is possible without losing data?
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Your controller cannot do it, that is why you have no options in OMSA.
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If not, I have used Acronis Disk Director in the past with great results.  Would that be a recommended means of imaging the current data?
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Yes.  You could then replace the disks and configure whatever size RAID you wanted, then restore your image to that virtual disk.
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by:cheesebugah
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Perfect!  Thanks a lot.
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by:cheesebugah
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Would you know exactly what type of disks I would need to purchase?  I think they're SCSI, but know no more than that at this point.
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Size?
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Looks like we're currently at 298 GB on the volume, which tells me we've got a couple of 150 gig disks in there.  I am more interested in the type as opposed to a size recommendation, if I am hearing you correctly?
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Well, kind of.  

Generically:

IF your system has hot-swappable drives (accessible in trays from the front of the system), then you need 80-pin SCSI.

If your system has cabled drives inside the system (not accessible from the front of the system), then you need 68-pin SCSI drives.

Dell branded drives would be best.

I'm afraid 298GB doesn't really make sense.  Is that how much USED space you have?  If so, what is the total capacity of your "disk" in the OS?  If you have 2x146GB SCSI drives in a RAID array, 1) you should have 292GB (around 272GB usable), and 2) it would be a RAID 0 instead of RAID 1, which is dangerous for your data.  If you had 2x300GB disks in RAID 1, it would be around 280GB usable.  So, going under the assumption that you have 300GB hot-swappable disks, and the actual capacity is less than 298GB, you would be looking for something like this:

http://www.amazon.com/Dell-CD808-300GB-Maxtor-Drive/dp/B0045ZTNSG/

If you needed 15K:

http://www.amazon.com/Fujitsu-JU654--MBA3300NC-300GB-80pin/dp/B003FF70AA/

Since 300GB is the largest SCSI drives, if you actually do have 298GB, then we need to re-evaluate your actual hardware/configuration, as it either is not RAID 1 with two disks or it is not SCSI (using the controller you referenced).
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by:cheesebugah
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I am going to physically go to the site today and see what we have.  This is what Disk Management says:

Basic Disk - NTFS
Capacity - 298.02 GB
Fault Tolerance - No

Device Manager says:

Disk Drives - Promise 1X2 Mirror/RAID1 SCSI Disk Device
SCSI and RAID Controllers - LSI Logic PCI-X Ultra 320 SCSI Host Adapter
                                                 Windows Promise FastTrak TX2300 (PDC20771) (tm) Controller
                                                 Windows Promise RAID Console SCSI Processor Device

So, it appears we're using some kind of Windows Promise Controller?  Never heard of it?
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http://www.promise.com/media_bank/Download%20Bank/Datasheet/FT_TX2300_DS091406.pdf

Heard of them, but I don't use them, and they are not used by Dell.

It is a SATA controller, so that means that you are using 2x320GB SATA in RAID 1.  I'm not sure if it supports adding space on the fly, but it certainly can't be managed by OMSA.
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In reading the article you so kindly included, it appears I can add space.  Under Specifications/RAID Features it says "Online Capacity Expansion - add capacity on the fly."  What is your take on that?  Do you think I can swap out one RAID 1 drive, wait for the rebuild, then replace the other and viola, added space?
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You may want to investigate it - maybe on the Promise forums.

I can only speak to the LSI/PERC controllers, but on them, Online Capacity Expansion is only for ADDING disks to an array for adding capacity.  In the case of RAID 1, your only option would be to add a disk and (together with RAID Level Migration) convert your 2-disk array into a 3-disk array, and since RAID 1 allows only two disks, the only RAID level you could use in RAID 5, but it is possible to add space to your existing array by so doing.

On Dell controllers, when you replace smaller drives with larger ones, the array remains the same size, and there is not a way to expand the array to fill the drives (EXCEPT for the very latest controllers).   So, depending on the controller, you only end up with two options after replacing them:  1) on low-end controllers, you can do nothing with the additional space, and 2) on high-end controllers, you can create a second array across the disks using the available space, which will present to the OS as a separate "disk".
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